Friday 9 December 2016

Mini-skirts and drink are no excuse for rape

Lorraine Courtney

Published 22/06/2016 | 02:30

'With public opinion surveys showing more than a quarter of us think a woman is in some way to blame for being attacked if she was drunk, flirty or wearing revealing clothes, there’s always the very real possibility that jurors in rape cases are making judgments based on discriminatory attitudes.' (stock photo)
'With public opinion surveys showing more than a quarter of us think a woman is in some way to blame for being attacked if she was drunk, flirty or wearing revealing clothes, there’s always the very real possibility that jurors in rape cases are making judgments based on discriminatory attitudes.' (stock photo)

We've come a long way since the days when a rape victim might be called a liar until she backed down. But it all may still mean precious little to many if some victims still prefer to drop the charges, fearing they only have the flimsiest chance of being believed in court. Now the Director of Public Prosecutions wants the Supreme Court to clarify the law when men accused of rape claim the woman consented to sex. Until now, rape has meant having sexual intercourse without consent, regardless of whether or not force was used. Because there is no explanation of consent in law jurors have been left to apply their own opinions to trials.

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This is why the issue of consent is grey and murky. It's why an ordinary nightlife, of lust and love, of banter and broken hearts, of occasionally drinking too much, may conceal a culture of cold, premeditated sexual contempt.

It's why women all over our country continue to be genuinely raped - by which I mean forced, by means of violence and intimidation, into sex they definitely didn't consent to.

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